We jump started our morning by hiking to Moon Hill right away. A wise decision, considering we were the only people there at that time. The hike consisted of about 15-20 minutes of steps. It's a good thing that I am, in fact, the stair master. The views from Moon Hill capture miles of the limestone towers and are well worth the stair climb. On our way down, an elderly Chinese lady pops out of nowhere and wants to sell us water. We declined, as we didn't need any, nor did we have any money with us. As we continued our descent, the lady was awfully insistent and kept following us. I swear that she kept saying that she needed to sell us water so she could buy a tiger. Now, if there is any sales pitch in the world that would make me want to purchase water from somebody, it would be that. I want her to have a tiger. Sadly, I had no money with me to fund her quest for a pet tiger.
After several refusals, we found that the only way she was going to leave us alone was if we lost her. So we sped up. With the elderly Chinese lady who weighs all of about 85 lbs. and lugging a small cooler filled with drinks in it still at our heels as we are running down these stairs, I said, "Lance, come on!"
"I can't go any faster and she's keeping up!"
We decided that perhaps it was best that we return to a normal pace. If we had gone any faster, either one of us or the lady was going to take a nose dive into the next 500 stairs. Neither of us wanted that on our conscience. At the bottom of the hill, we bid farewell to the tiger lady.
We biked through some of the rural areas in the afternoon, making our way to Dragon Bridge. The rice fields are a beautiful green with hints of yellow. Many of the farmers were harvesting their rice crops, an interesting process to observe. Farmers also put a rope through the cow's nose and then tie them up to keep them contained. Crops consisted of mandarin oranges, red chili peppers and rice.
After two hours of biking, we made it to the Dragon Bridge, which was built in the early 1400's. It's mind-boggling to think what the world was like at that time. America hadn't even been discovered.
For our return, we floated down the Yulong River on a bamboo raft. This was my favorite part of the whole trip. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and the setting was utterly peaceful. The water completely still, often with reflections of the karst towers surrounding us. Since we had biked so far away from the town, there weren't other tourists enjoying their rafting trip at the same time. It was just us floating on the river, surrounded by magnificent landscape. We were on cloud nine!
Periodically, we would approach very small waterfalls. The front of the raft would plunge into the water before leveling out. Towards the end of our rafting paradise, we saw three men scurry into the water in their underwear and then an explosion. As we floated closer, we found that they had thrown a water bomb in the river to catch their supper. We started snapping pictures of this ridiculous scene of three grown men scrambling to catch dead fish floating in the water, but were quickly told not to by one of the members of the fish bombers. It turns out that their activities were illegal.
We enjoyed the evening on the balcony of the hotel restaurant, with delicious Italian food, scenic views and card games (well, that part wasn't so great for me…this time). Cheers!